More than 100 overseas workers have been recruited in the past year for Whanganui jobs which no New Zealanders could be found to fill.

Immigration New Zealand figures show 114 workers from overseas had "essential skills" work visas approved in Whanganui in the year to the end of March.

The Essential Skills Work Visa allowed people to work in New Zealand for up to five years if their employer had first checked whether any New Zealanders were available to do the work, according to Immigration New Zealand.

Figures showed 16 of those who had the visas approved in Whanganui were chefs, from China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, South Korea and Thailand.

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Chef was the most common profession of those who had the visas approved in the past year.

Another eight workers were residential medical officers from Great Britain and Malaysia and eight were dairy cattle farmers from the Philippines and France.

Other professions included boat builder and repairer, surgeon, emergency medicine specialist, carpenter and shearer.

Vijeshwar Prasad, president of the Multicultural Council of Rangitikei/Wanganui, said some complained about the arrival of new migrants, but they weren't taking jobs from locals.

"They are coming based on their own experience and skills. They are doing work that the New Zealanders don't want to do."

Most importantly, they were helping the economy, he said.

Mr Prasad said New Zealanders didn't want to train or they were training in the wrong areas.

Careers departments in schools should work more closely with immigration to look at the country's needs, he said.

Professions in demand included chef, carpenter, plumber and electrician - all high-paying jobs.

Mr Prasad said Whanganui was a good place for migrants to live because the cost of living was low.

He'd noticed a big increase in migrants, particularly from India, China and Korea.
The multicultural council worked closely with the district council to help them set up business, he said.

Statistics New Zealand figures released this week show permanent and long-term migration to the Whanganui-Manawatu area was up 0.9 per cent to 2832 in the year to May.

Departures were down 11.4 per cent to 1786.